CNN reports: "One of China's most-advanced warships is leading a small flotilla to the Baltic Sea, where it will engage in exercises with the Russian Navy. The Russian and Chinese defense ministries have confirmed the participation of a Chinese guided-missile destroyer in the week-long war games, the first-ever joint operation by the two powers in European waters, according to a report on the People's Liberation Army's official website. Training will include anti-submarine warfare and air defense drills, the Russian Ministry of Defense said. Russian naval facilities in the enclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between NATO allies Poland and Lithuania, have been selected as the headquarters for the exercise.China said the joint drills would be the first for the Type 052D destroyer Hefei, which was commissioned less than two years ago. It's being joined by a missile frigate, a supply ship and about 10 Russian ships."
Bloomberg reports: "The U.S. can now ship rice to China for the first time ever, signaling a win for President Donald Trump in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship just after talks between the nations broke down Wednesday. Officials from the nations finalized a protocol to allow for the first-ever American shipments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a statement. China is the world’s biggest rice consumer, importer and producer. The rice deal comes just a month after China reopened its market to U.S. beef imports for the first time in more than a decade and is the latest in a flurry of trade negotiations between the nations. China is also approving more biotech products and increasing U.S. natural gas imports. But if the nations are to make any meaningful dent in the U.S.’s $347 billion trade deficit with China that’s the object of Trump’s ire, they may have to keep negotiating beyond the modest agreements already signed. And there are signs the relationship may be turning a bit sour. High-level economic talks in Washington broke up Wednesday with the superpowers, the world’s two largest economies, unable to produce a joint statement."
The Washington Post comments: "It has been a week since the death of Liu Xiaobo, the famed Chinese dissident who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Peace while imprisoned. Late last month, Chinese officials announced that the prominent writer, who had been detained since 2009, was being moved to a hospital to receive treatment for late-stage liver cancer. Despite the entreaties of his family, friends and foreign governments, Beijing refused to release him to seek care overseas. He died July 13, becoming only the second Nobel laureate to perish in custody (Carl von Ossietzky, an anti-Nazi pacifist, died in 1938). In a move that sparked the ire of Chinese activists, authorities apparently ensured that his ashes were buried at sea and not on Chinese soil. Acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei, who lives in Germany, said the move was aimed at denying Liu’s supporters 'a physical memorial site' and that it 'showed brutal society can be'... Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the invasive, authoritarian control of the ruling government has expanded, while the space for civil society has contracted. Dissent and critical expression have been chilled, and it seems increasingly clear that Chinese officials aren’t bothered by censure from abroad... It also doesn’t help that there is an American president who has explicitly argued against fighting for universal values and rights elsewhere. On the day of Liu’s death, President Trump happened to hail his Chinese counterpart Xi as a 'terrific' and 'talented' leader... Hu Jia, a prominent dissident who served more than three years in prison...offered an ominous warning: 'Some have turned to believe in violent revolution. It makes people feel the door to a peaceful transition has closed.'"